Circuit Judge Kenneth Lester Jr. has ordered George Zimmerman released on $1 million bail, but not before bashing him for “flaunt[ing] the system” and “manipulating the system for his own benefit.” He suggested that future contempt proceedings might be in order. Zimmerman has been charged with second-degree murder of Trayvon Martin in a widely-covered and media-manipulated case.
The judge suggested that Zimmerman was indeed a flight risk, stating that Zimmerman had a second passport he hadn’t told the court about. “Notably, together with the passport, the money only had to be hidden for a short time for him to leave the country if the defendant made a quick decision to flee. It is entirely reasonable for this court to find that, but for the requirement that he be placed on electronic monitoring, the defendant and his wife would have fled the United States with at least $130,000 of other people's money.”
The judge also said that the strength of the case would be based on Zimmerman’s “self-defense/Stand Your Ground claim”; Zimmerman claimed self-defense in the killing of Martin, stating that Martin had been bashing his head against the ground before Zimmerman shot him.
The judge seemed particularly perturbed the fact that much of the Zimmerman bail money came from donations to Zimmerman’s defense fund: “it can be deemed almost as 'found money.' It is not money which the defendant has earned through his hard work and savings, so forfeiting it for failing to appear would not impact the defendant's life in the same manner as a similarly-situated defendant who puts his house up as collateral to obtain a surety bond."